One evening several months ago, our neighbors and dear friends began telling us of their love of Blue Crab. They are from the east coast. We had to chime in and tell them about our love of Dungeness Crab. We are from the west coast. The gauntlet had been dropped…which species was the tastiest.
We left the evening tasked with the responsibility of ordering crab from our favorite east/west coast supplier. Then we would meet again to decide which crab would reign as the superior crab.
Before letting you know the results, here are a few trivial facts about each species…
The Blue Crab’s scientific name is Callinectes Sapiders (beautiful swimmer that is savory). Not bad! This crab is literally blue before it is boiled, at which time the shell turns a shade of orange. The back legs of the Blue Crab are paddle-like making them good swimmers. They live in the waters of Nova Scotia to Argentina, but are most abundant along the coast of North America – Texas to Massachusetts to be exact. The maximum size of a Blue Crab is approximately 9”.
The Dungeness Crab’s scientific name is Metacarcinus Magister. Sadly, I couldn’t find a meaning for its name. Dungeness Crab is the undisputed king of the west coast’s chilly waters. They can be found mainly in the Pacific Ocean from Washington to California. Like the blues, the dungeness can reach up to 9” in size.
On to the competition…
Last weekend we had the showdown. We arrived with our Dungeness Crabs all cleaned, with the legs off and the body cut in two. That is how my mom did it, so that is how I do it. I brought a red sauce (same one my mom made) to put on the meat once it was cracked and the meat had been removed.
Now, east coast crab eaters do it a bit differently…they cover the table with newspaper, grab a whole crab, and start from scratch. Only instead of getting all the flesh out and neatly lying it on a plate, they just eat it straight out of the shell with their fingers!
Now, at first, us west coast crab eaters weren’t sure about that way of doing it, but we were there to learn and try something different. That is exactly what we did. We grabbed a Blue Crab, took the main body shell off, and began eating right from the shell – WOW! Outstanding, even without my mom’s sauce!! Then, we grabbed some of the nicely cleaned Dungeness Crab, took the meat out of each leg and body, placed it on a plate, and ate it with mom’s sauce. Some things you just can’t play with.
So, here is what I learned from the crab taste-off…
First, both species have amazingly sweet and tender flesh. The Blue Crabs have a little softer shell making them easier to break open, but because their legs are smaller, it wasn’t quite as easy to get the meat out. But, here is the thing I wasn’t expecting.
As each of us cracked our crabs and made our individual messes, we talked and we laughed, and we got to know each other a little bit better. It was a casual, let your hair down evening in which each of us simply enjoyed the crab and each other. That was the best part of the feast.
My guess is that the east coast couple will continue to enjoy their east coast Blue Crabs and us west coast folks, well, we’ll continue to enjoy our Dungeness Crabs. Not because one was better than the other, but most likely, because it is what we grew up with and there are memories tied to our choices.
Here is my recommendation…
Order some fresh crab, grab some friends and a bottle of wine, lay down some newspaper, and tear into the tender sweet meat. All the while, laugh and visit and get to know each other just a little bit better.
Kathy was a business owner for many years. Specializing in the field of orthopedic joint replacement, her time was spent in the operating room and conducting training programs throughout the United States. Since moving to the midwest with her corporate husband, she divides her time between caring for Brandy, their 4-legged family member, cooking from scratch, and searching out exceptional undiscovered restaurants both at home and wherever their travels take them. She also creates greeting cards that are sold around the world. Kathy discovered her love of writing while in college and has begun using it as a way to share her travel experiences and the restaurants she seeks out along the way.
Kathy, her husband, and Brandy currently live in Nebraska.